“Behold He Who Has Repented of His Sins”: Oregon Women Sues Mormon Church Over Reporting Husband’s Child Abuse

There is an interesting case out of Oregon where the wife of a convicted child sex offender is suing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for contacting police after he confessed to sexually abusing the couple’s daughter. Timothy Samuel Johnson and his wife Kristine Johnson were members of a Stayton “ward” and his wife prompted his going to the church after learning that he had “engaged in inappropriate conduct” with a minor known to him.  Kristine Johnson is seeking $9.5 million for the breach of promised confidentiality by a clergy member. It is a fascinating twist on the usual challenge to evidence obtained by police in such clergy cases. Here the defendant is the church itself in a civil action for inducing the disclosure of incriminating information under allegedly false representations of confidentiality. The case could prompt churches and religious organizations to post warnings about their intention to go to police with any allegation of criminal conduct — a notice that could have an impact on the willingness of the faithful to be forthcoming in such confessional settings.

The church requires such confessions and Brandt alleges that church leaders represented “that whatever the scope of Mr. Johnson’s evil transgressions, the Church and its clergy will spiritually counsel Mr. Johnson to bring peace within his life and family.” The complaint identifies a counselor to the local bishop as the source of the police report and says that he was improperly trained and supervised in the matter. The result was that Johnson received a 15 year prison sentence for four counts of second-degree sexual abuse.

The complaint is alleging that the disclosure was made under an assurance of confidentiality. There is also the interesting twist that Oregon has a mandatory reporting law requiring disclosure of such cases — one of 28 states with such laws. The law states in pertinent party.

According to Oregon Revised Statute 419B010,

“Any public or private official having reasonable cause to believe that any child with whom the official comes in contact has suffered abuse, or that any person with whom the official comes in contact has abused a child shall report or cause a report to be made…”

However, the law also states:

“Nothing contained in ORS 40.225 (Rule 503. Lawyer-client privilege) to 40.295 (Rule 514. Effect on existing privileges) or 419B.234 (Qualifications) (6) affects the duty to report imposed by this section, except that a psychiatrist, psychologist, member of the clergy, attorney or guardian ad litem appointed under ORS 419B.231 (Appointment) is not required to report such information communicated by a person if the communication is privileged under ORS 40.225 (Rule 503. Lawyer-client privilege) to 40.295 (Rule 514. Effect on existing privileges) or 419B.234 (Qualifications).”

Now here is another twist. Pharmacists are included in mandatory reporters and this allegation was reported to police by Brian Saari, a pharmacist.

The odds still favor the church even without a warning. A person seeking redemption is not necessarily depending on confidentiality and, if no such promise was made, a jury could decline to presume that confidentiality was the overriding precondition for disclosure. The Latter-day Saint’s scripture Doctrine and Covenants 58:42-43: 

“Behold he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins-behold, he will confess them and forsake them.”

The lawsuit alleges breach of fiduciary duty, negligence and interference with prospective economic advantage. It seeks  $5.5 million for his wife for loss of his income and for extreme emotional distress and $1 million for each of his four children. It also seeks reimbursement for the criminal defense attorney. Notably, the four children of the couple are also plaintiffs in the action. However, the fifth child, the victim, is not included.

The case also comes at a time when California is considering an controversial law that would require priests and other church employees to inform authorities if they learn of a case of child sex abuse during the sacrament of confession.

27 thoughts on ““Behold He Who Has Repented of His Sins”: Oregon Women Sues Mormon Church Over Reporting Husband’s Child Abuse”

  1. It’s appalling that the government would intrude on the penitent’s right to confess sins to God. It’s even worse that a priest would offer up the sins to the government. To do so, gravely impairs the the whole right to worship.

  2. FDR went in to see his preacher. He said he was going to nuke the Japs when the bomb was completed. God then killed FDR. Truman did not go to the pastor of his church and ordered the two Nap cities wiped off the face of the Earth.

    Don’t tell your preacher evil things you have done or will do. Dog is listening. Believe in Dog not God. God spelled backwards is Dog. Get it straight.

    1. That’s what they want you think. Still-classified records prove that FDR’s preacher sought advice from a lawyer. The lawyer decided he had a legal duty to report under the crime-fraud exception, so the lawyer went to Rod Rosenstein’s predecessor over at DOJ. The DOJ provided legal authorization to take out FDR with the WWII version of a drone strike.

      So yeah, don’t tell you preacher (or your lawyer) about the bad things you have done. And be careful about talking to your dog. It might be wearing a wire implanted by the NSA under a secret FISA order.
      .

  3. The person who reported the crime was a “counselor to the Bishop.” Not the Bishop himself. And thus not “a member of the clergy.” Moreover, I’m sure there is something similar to the “crime-fraud exception” to the attorney-client privilege, where the attorney must maintain the client’s confidential disclosures of past crimes, but must report the client if the attorney reasonably believes the client is planning future crimes. Here, the perv was presumably living in the same household as the child he was molesting. Thus it was reasonable for the counselor to believe that the child was in danger, and protecting the child takes precedence over the perv’s desire to be forgiven of his depravity. And finally, the wife must be utterly delusional to think a jury is going to award her $9.5 million against the church that sent her child molester husband to jail. As a mother, her first duty was to protect her minor child. She failed. So not, she’s not going to get a reward for that. She should have put a bullet in her perv husband, or at least divorced him.

    1. The mother was a threat to the child, as well. When it came time to put her money down, she protected her child molester husband, going after those who stopped him, rather than her child.

      Over and over we see this. The mother who is supposed to die to protect her child instead allows it…if the perpetrator is her significant other. Why do they do this? That afraid of being on their own? Hoping against hope that it will stop on its own? I have read about multiple times in a nearby town where a child was beaten to death by the boyfriend of his own mother. Why why why? You pick your child over your own comfort. How many molestation cases have there been in the news where the child told their mother and she didn’t believe them? Or punished them?

      Perhaps some women are afraid to lose their financial support. Afraid to try to make it. Afraid to move and start over. It’s like the lionesses whose pride has been taken over by a new lion. That lion is going to kill all the cubs of his former rival. The lionesses know this. But they don’t scatter to the four winds with their cubs and meet up later. They don’t gang up and kill any lion that is a threat to their young. They could do it, if they worked together, and that behavior would genetically end. They just get really sad and then have more cubs with the new male who killed them.

  4. Hurray for the Mormons. The right thing to do was to risk a lawsuit in order to protect a child from being raped or sexually molested. It’s not even a close call.

  5. Below in the thread, I commented that the use of quotes to describe a Mormon ward seemed strange in the context of the professor’s blog post. PCS replied by pointing to the Wikipedia entry for a Mormon ward, to which I wholeheartedly agree. The exchange got me to thinking about the larger point . . .

    @PCS- Agreed. Per the Wikipedia article, ward is the common, accepted name for an administrative unit of the LDS church. Quotes usually denote slang or something unusual (or per Grammarly, implied disagreement). The quotes around ward seemed strange in the context of the post. It implies that Mormons are still somehow a little “dodgy.”

    And relatedly, the substantive point raised by the article bears some thought. In this case, the penitent (not the clergy member) holds the privilege. The reporting statute provides an express exception to the reporting requirement. It doesn’t abrogate the privilege, or make reporting optional for the clergy member. So there’s a good argument that the the “bishop” blew it.

    Thus returning to the use of quotes, and the old saying that “bad facts make bad law.” So often, new requirements are justified by applying them to marginalized groups. Pedophiles (for good reason) are usually at the top of the list. The requirements are steadily expanded to other groups, depending on their degree of disfavor at the time.

    Here, there are two marginalized groups – pedophiles and Mormons – that are central to the analysis. It is relatively easy to erode important protections when the groups involved are unpopular.

    OMG, this is starting to sound like progressive intersectionality theory. Which is a sophisticated way of saying that we like your group(s), but definitely not pedophiles and we’ll be a coy when we describe those odd religious folk with the strange underwear. Scary when you put it all together.

  6. Jon Krakauer, in his non-fiction book “Under The Banner Of Heaven,” states clearly the nature of Joseph’s Smith’s demise: Smith had successfully lured a good number of married women to leave their families and join Smith’s harem of concubines (about 45 IIRC, 49ers QB Steve Young’s ancestor Brigham Young had several times as many concubines as Smith). Unlike now, losing a spouse in that era caused risk to life and limb.

    The local men knew of Smith’s sexual perversions, and that there was sum total one method to stop him: Smith’s well deserved dirt nap. Those men broke Smith out of the prison and hung him from a nearby tree. (Before his hanging, Smith cried out the well known Freemason declaration for mercy from any fellow-Mason within hearing, “Have mercy on the widow’s son,” to no avail. This is one of many proofs that Smith was a Freemason, and Freemasonry sprang from Judaism. The Mormon connection to modern Israel is easily confirmed. Mormonism is just another form of Zionism.)

    Krakauer is wealthy. If Krakauer’s narrative was false, the Mormon “church” would sue him to hell and back again, but such lawsuit would only confirm and make well known the truth of Mormonism’s first prophet. The church’s non-action further proves and confirms the truth in Krakauer’s description.

    Utah was barred from joining the Republic till it outlawed polygamy.

    More inane things about Mormonism: the original language in the original texts is almost unreadable tripe, bordering on illiterate. The name itself is illiterate: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” literally means that Christ is an LDS (one can be an originator or a follower of the originator, but not both). The stupid Angel Moroni apparently flunked 4th grade, and God forgot to check Moroni’s work (The Church of LDS of Jesus Christ). Moroni appears to be more aptly called “Moronic” (rhymes with Masonic). The tablets described would be impossible for any human to carry, but that apparently doesn’t stop people with IQ above room temp from joining the religion.

    1. putting aside the obvious which is that Mormonism is not consistent with Trinititarian Christianity in either Catholic, Orthodox, or the main Protestant forms… Mormonism is not “Zionism” by another form. That is just plain ridiculous. I dismiss that on its face and turn now to Freemasonry starting with the story of the lynching of the infamous Joseph Smith.

      The story abouit Joseph Smith however is confirmed. These mormons admit that he was a Freemason and that he uttered a distress cry from freemasonry. Which did not help!

      https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Question:_Were_Joseph_Smith%27s_final_words,_%22O_Lord,_my_God!%22_a_cry_for_help_or_mercy_from_Freemasons_in_the_mob_at_the_Carthage_jail%3F

      It does not flow from that in the slightest bit that Freemasonry “Sprang from Judaism”

      But i have heard this notion before. It’s wrong, totally wrong, and only has some superficial things to commend it.

      There is Qaballistic mumbo jumbo in the rituals of Freemasonry, to be sure. That’s insignificant. if I use some Yiddish words it does not make me Jewish.

      However their origins, prior to the first lodges revealing itself in England in 1717, come at least in part from “operative masonry” ie the builders of stone of the middle ages, and perhaps as many believe, more so from the suppressed Knight Templars. That is a hypothesis with a lot of good evidence to support it and many freemasons “buy it” and they do adore the figure of Jacques de Molay.

      HOWEVER, and here is where I hate to disappoint you princess, but Jacques de Molay was not Jewish, he was the head of the Knights Templar, and not only a good Catholic according to his own claim, but the Catholic Church has rehabilitated the order, which had falsely been accused of heresy, blasphemy, etc.

      Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-vatican-templars/knights-templar-win-heresy-reprieve-after-700-years-idUSL093422320071012

      In short, the suppression of the Knights Templar, was unfair to the order, and in an act of historical integrity the Church has basically repudiated it, though the damage is long since done.

      Part of the legacy of the suppression of the Knights Templar, is that they “went underground” across Europe. This story eventually leads to Freemasonry. I’ll skip that story as Im sure most folks are bored by this.

      Now that is not to say that Freemasonry is ok per the Catholic Church, last time I checked, it is considered to be a manifestation of the heresy of indifferent-ism and other problems, which have nothing to do with Judaism whatsoever. Perhaps the same thing applies to Mormonism. it may be a false religion, but it is not Jewish in the slightest bit.

      1. Props for spelling “Qaballistic,” something I can’t do. I guess the Mormon 2nd HQ in Israel is just a coincidence.

        Religious cults make no sense when you get down into the weeds. Mormons of course state Jesus traveled to the US and declared the US is “Zion” the “promised land,” something that would make a classical Zionist cringe.

        It’s the same weirdness between “Evangelicals” and Zionist-Israelis. They are totally in bed with each other: Zionists love evangelicals because they are brain dead, believing wrongly that God demands they pay money and blood to maintain modern Israel. Where they part ways is when evangelicals state that later Jesus arrives again (another Protestant lie) and when he does, all the Jews either become believers or go straight to hell. But Zionists just ignore that, preferring to milk the stupid evangelical cow in the here and now for whatever they can get in the way of money and wars for Israel’s borders, something those same stupid evangelicals might refuse to do for their own country.

        The reason Zionists want to outlaw protests against Israel is because the older the USA gets, the fewer evangelicals there are to believe their Zionist BS.

  7. Quite fitting Turley posting about one cult to avoid posting about cult 45. What’s wrong Turley, could not find articles that the DOJ dropped all investigations on Hillary because they found NOTHING.

    1. investigations get dropped all the time that find things. they just don’t find willing witnesses who can provide sufficient sworn testimony to mount a case. so they drop them.

      you guys were reminding us this when Mueller’s report came in and you were quick to say it was not an exoneration just an “insufficient evidence” type conclusion or so you believed.

      so apply that notion to Hillary. See how that works? Nobody will testify against her. So no case. They could have tons of evidence but if no willing witnesses who will talk then it’s never going to fly in court.

      1. Your eyes have to be brown because you’re full of it. Maybe you can list the people that Hillary ordered not to turn over docs and witnesses over to the DOJ. And Mueller’s report had plenty of finding, Trump ORDERED people NOT to turn over docs and witnesses. And Turley WILL ignore the DOJ findings about Hillary, unless he can pull something out of his arse again, and just make up different rules for different people like he did for Trump.

        1. thanks Fish it’s clear you understood my point and you just dont like it

          you’re jabbing at turley which is pretty much all you creepy hillary fanboys do here anymore

        2. here’s a different tak on that story you can nitpick if you like. since you’re bringing it up. I dont care too much either way.

          https://www.redstate.com/elizabeth-vaughn/2020/01/10/763085/

          “Remember in 2017 when President Trump pressed then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions into opening a Special Counsel investigation into Hillary Clinton? Sessions declined. Instead, in November 2017, he appointed U.S. Attorney John Huber of Utah to look into the FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s use of a private server as Secretary of State, possible corruption at the Clinton Foundation, and Clinton’s involvement in the sale of Uranium One to Russian state-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom.

          Sessions requested that Huber perform a review of these matters to determine if a Special Counsel investigation was warranted. Sessions wrote:

          Your recommendations should include whether any matters not currently under investigation warrants the opening of an investigation, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources or further investigation, and whether any matters would merit the appointment of a Special Counsel.

          And then we never heard another word from John Huber.

          According to The Washington Post, “current and former officials said that Huber has largely finished and found nothing worth pursuing — though the assignment has not formally ended and no official notice has been sent to the Justice Department or to lawmakers.”

          Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, who had testified in a December 2018 hearing on the case, responded to the news by tweet. “DOJ non investigation results in non prosecutions? No surprise. DOJ has NEVER stopped defending Hillary Clinton’s email misconduct. @JudicialWatch faced six DOJ and State Dept attorneys in fed court last month who were trying to shut down our Clinton email case.”

          Why would Fitton call this a non-investigation? It appears that Huber shirked his duties and did not perform much of a review or perhaps any review at all.

          In December 2018, thirteen months after Sessions asked for Huber’s assistance, the House Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations held a hearing which was led by the committee’s chair, Rep. Mark Meadows, (R-NC).

          There were three notable takeaways from this hearing.

          First, Huber did not attend. At the beginning of the hearing, Meadows said, “Mr. Huber was asked to join us this afternoon and update the committee on the operations and progress of his investigation, and unfortunately, DOJ has been unwilling to make him available. I find this not only frustrating for me, but frustrating for the American people.” Very strange.

          Next, it appears that neither Huber nor members of his team bothered to review any of the 6,000 pages of information sent to them by the whistleblowers. In the first video below, which is teed up at 3:10:15, Mark Meadows questions two Clinton Foundation whistleblowers, Lawrence Doyle of DM Income Advisors (Managing Partner, Foundations & Political Influence) and John Moynihan of JFM Associates (Compliance Advisory Firm, Principal).

          Note: The hearing had originally been scheduled for December 5, 2018, but was pushed out a week due to the funeral for President George H. W. Bush.

          On November 30th, five days prior to the originally scheduled date for the hearing, Doyle and Moynihan received a call from Huber’s office saying that they could not locate the documents which contained their evidence. The documents had already been submitted twice. The men sent them a third time.

          Here are the relevant excerpts from Meadows’ questioning.

          Rep. Meadows: Why do you think Mr. Huber waited until November 30th to call you about four letters you had sent prior?

          Mr. Moynihan: I don’t know.

          Rep. Meadows: Do you think it might have had to do with you coming here to testify…They were fully aware because we had asked them to come and be a witness at this particular hearing. Then all of the sudden you get a phone call from what, Mr. Huber’s second in command. Is that correct?

          Mr. Moynihan: He was clearly the assistant US Attorney dealing directly with Mr. Huber.

          Rep. Meadows: Well I find it just very coincidental that on November 30th, a few days before the hearing, after we notified them that we wanted them to come testify that all of the sudden they would start following up. So, Mr. Doyle, what did they say about the documents that you had provided them?

          Rep. Meadows: So you’re telling me that on November 30th they called you back and they couldn’t find the first two submissions you had made to the Department of Justice and Mr. Huber? That they wanted you to send them again? That’s what you’re telling me?

          Mr. Doyle: We’re concluding that ourselves. That’s what we’re concluding.

          Finally, there was another inexplicable turn of events. Meadows asked Doyle and Moynihan to turn over the 6,000 pages of documents to his committee and they flatly refused. In the second video below, which is teed up at 2:45:45, Meadows is losing his patience with the men. (If one happened to be a conspiracy theorist, one might wonder why the whistleblowers chose not to cooperate with Rep. Meadows’ committee. At one time, the men had been interested in justice.)

          As they finish speaking with their attorneys, Meadows speaks:

          Rep. Meadows: If you’re not going to share your information with this Committee, my patience is running out.

          Mr. Moynihan: We will not be providing those materials.

          Rep. Meadows: We will compel you to bring all those documents to this Committee then…let me just tell you, this is a hearing to get to the truth and what you’re saying is that you’re all about the truth, Mr. Moynihan..if you’re all about the truth then why aren’t you willing to give us the documents?

          Why not, indeed?”

  8. As for Oregon and it Children’s Services Department or CSD here’s an example on how they reallyu operate.

    It’s all about getting laws passed to make others do their work. Case in point. One of my relatives skipped out on child support etc by emigrating to another country. When he applied for citizenship that country sent to CSD etc.Oregon to find out if he had any negative records. They cheerfully answered ‘No’ even though he was 11-12 years behind on child support.

    In another case the newly divorced but separated husband had been paying double minimum child support voluntarily,. The CSD demanded a three month payment immediately including both amounts though only one, the minimum was ordered by the divorce court. And no it doesn’t come under bankrupty laws.

    To make it worse the local hospital billed for some medical amounts due and owing.

    Two things happened. The three months in advance was not paid as it violated the court order. The individual pointed out that the medical cost had not been billed and in effect that cancelled the bill. Seems the billing clerk couldn’t be bothered to bill the second source which the patients status as military retirees dependent even though the ID had been produced.

    There was one more result. The ex moved to another country.

    Whereupon when applying for new citizenship the State of Oregon cheerfully sent a negative problems report.

    It’s what happens, even with recall’ when the stste government only gets elected and holds legislature ini session once every other year. ‘

    They are also about ninth in the amount of taxes even without state sales tax as now the cities and counties are picking up that source using a number of blatantly crooked tricks. Such as Ashland, Oregon added a one per cent sales tax that could be raised up to five percent by a vote of the city council. It took less than a month to make the jump. And then the fools that live there cnfirmed it with another yes vote.

    Ashland hosts the Shakespeare Festival but also a University full of snowflakes.

    None out family lives there anymore.

    And that’s just a few of stories Oregon wishes weren’t told but then it is nothing more than a bedroom community for California and most of the real Oregonians have …. gone elsewhere.

  9. ….except that a psychiatrist, psychologist, member of the clergy, attorney or guardian ad litem appointed under ORS 419B.231 (Appointment) is not required to report….

    Doesn’t the phrase “is not required to report” open the door to giving those parties a choice?

  10. Motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action. One who commits a crime cannot sue someone for reporting him/her.

  11. She may have a legitimate complaint of sorts, but this isn’t the sort of thing you can properly adjudicate in a civil court.

    1. the “separation of church and state” is a doctrine that does allow for some civil cases to be dismissed from courts without adjudication. details and scope vary from state to state.

      for a civil rights discrimination type case against a church for example, if the church merely asserts a “pastoral purpose,” then the courts will generally just can the case and refuse to hear it.

      that might apply to this one too, not sure

  12. As we would say at the poker table, the use of quotes to describe the Stayton “ward” is a strange tell. Would one normally speak of the Alexandria “parish,” Arlington “county,” or the 8th Congressional “district?” Seems that LDS are still considered strange outsiders in many polite circles.

  13. As a high school teacher of at-risk youth, I had to warn them that there were some things I was required by law to report to the authorities. I think the Church was correct to try to save the minor child.

    I do not know how this will play out, but they have my support.

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